Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari’s already tenuous ruling coalition is expected to come under even more serious fire now, as the nation’s Supreme Court has declared a long-standing amnesty law unconstitutional.
The US-backed amnesty law, the National Reconciliation Ordinance, granted amnesty to Zardari and several key allies, including Defense Minister Ahmad Mukhtar and Interior Minister Rehman Malik from the assorted crimes they are accused of from previous government service.
Zardari retains legal immunity as a sitting president, but opposition figures are expected to argue his election was invalid, as it was only possible through the now-invalidated immunity law.
The husband of late Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto, Zardari earned the nickname “Mr. 10 Percent” early in his political career, a reference to his expectation of bribes for every significant contract he granted. With his coalition hanging on by a thread and his approval rating in the toilet, the loss of immunity for his allies and perhaps even him could threaten the US-backed government and its ability to continue fighting endless wars along its northern tribal areas.